Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ★★★½

I feel like my thoughts are a bit jumbled but this is less of a review and more of me just getting out what I thought was interesting about Wakanda Forever.

With Chadwick’s untimely and unfortunate death, this movie was never going to be slsble to be what it could have been. Imagine an Iron Man movie without Tony, or a Spider-Man movie without Peter. Like those characters, Boseman’s T’Challa quickly became an indelible part of the MCU. The fact that Wakanda Forever works at all without him is a testament to Coogler and the other characters that he’s developed in this corner of Earth-616.

This movie is clunky at times. There’s several big new characters introduced, while existing characters are struggling with the loss of their loved one and protector, and how to make their way in this new world that seems a little less bright. The Chadwick-sized hole is always present for both the audience and the characters. Wakanda Forever isn’t quite as visually captivating as the first movie, the story is less simple and moves in fits and starts. 

The performances, thankfully, are mostly good. I expected that from Angela Bassett of course, but was pleasant surprised by what Letitia Wright was able to do. Lupita Nyong’o needed to be featured more, she’s the actress here who could have best and most capably moved into the central role, but she’s not used nearly as much as I’d like. This is a Marvel movie, and as such it’s full of VFX and big special effects shots, but thankfully the established characters are given moments to make them them seem more whole and three dimensional. I initially thought the the almost three hour running time was going to be too much, but it was pretty much essential in order for the characterization to happen to make side and peripheral characters into our new leads. 

This is a movie that’s plainly and directly about how shitty imperialism is, and how it scars native cultures for literal centuries. It’s not communicated in the most deft or articulate way, but the message is not sugar-coated, and I continue to be impressed that Marvel gives this message a voice.

This is about the best adaptation of Namor that can be done in a mainstream popcorn movie in 2022. I think he’s effective in the movie, but his whole plan is absolutely dumb.

Continuing that theme, this is about the best Black Panther movie that you could do without Chadwick. Most of my non-superficial complaints can be traced back to his absence.  

Last but not least, Lupita blew my mind multiple times. I won’t go into detail, but if you know, you know.

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